Having recently turned 100 years young, Japan’s Mieko Nagaoka has successfully completed by the backstroke method a 1500 meter swim. Adding to her astonishing accomplishment is the fact that no other individual at 100 years has every completed a race at that distance. As a side note, she holds 24 titles in her age group from FINA (the International Swimming Federation) in short and long distances.
As the only competitor to participate in the age category of 100 to 104, Nagaoka would finish the race in a 25-meter long pool with a time of 1 hour 15 minutes and 54 seconds. Already a holder of 15 World Reocrds, the enthusiastic fans in attendance gave a rousing round of applause in recognition of her superb feat.
It was just two years ago that Diana Nyad swam from Cuba to Florida, capturing the hearts and minds of American sports fans, while challenging convention about age and athletic competition. Nagaoka’s latest feat adds to Nyad’s legacy, providing inspiration for elderly athletes the world over.
Of note, she only began to swim at the age of 80 as part of a rehabilitation program. Having suffered severe illness in her knee, the chance to get into the pool provided a form of therapeutic relief. It was also an effective method to remain in shape fue to her performances in Noh; a Japanese traditional dance. After establishing a national record in the 800 meter freestyle at 90, she would acquire the services of a coach.
At the age of 99, she would engage in a 1500 meter swim in an Olypmic-sized swimming pool. In addition, she would also write a book discussing her athletic efforts with the title: I’m 100 years old and the world’s best active swimmer.
Worth noting is the fact that Nagaoka is not the only centenarian in Japan that has made sporting history. Hidekichi Miyazaki is four years the senior of Nagaoka, and set a new world record in the 100-meter dash for an athlete over 100 years. Completing the distance in a record time of 29.83 seconds, the nickname Golden Bolt has only added to this athlete’s legend. According to Japan’s Ministry of Health, there are approximately 59,000 residents in Japan that are at least 100 years old. Of note, 87% of said residents are women.
With ambition in her heart, Nagaoka is not ready to turn her back on the sport. Hoping that her accomplishment shall be acknowledged the world-famous Guinness Book of World Records, she is eager to continue her exploits in the pool until the age of 105.